Tonight I made the serious mistake of venturing into something called "Yen Sushi & Sake Bar" in a minimall on Wilshire between Barrington and Bundy (same minimall as Subway and a truly awful Asian all you can eat buffet restaurant). Yen is apparently part of a chain that also uses the name "California Roll & Sushi Fish."
I had never tried Yen before because the menu (which is outside the restaurant) does give you an idea of what you are in store for -- you have a choice of "Fresh Roll" (all of which contain avocado - I guess they think all Americans love avocado), "Baked Roll" or "Tempura Roll." However, I was working late, was starving and desperate for something. How bad could it be?
The restaurant is rather nice inside given the neighborhood (I'm not saying it's beautiful - it's just that it is a definite step up from the Subway, McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken that litter this part of West L.A.). But the sushi was vile and not exactly cheap given the poor quality.
I had two rolls, each $11.50 each (I had them hold the avocado - perhaps I am the only American who doesn't like avocado - in my sushi or otherwise). The first was a "Spicy Tataki Roll" which consisted of chopped up tuna, with rice on the outside, which was then layered with mushy slices of bright pink tuna in some kind of sweet sauce. It was as bad as it sounds. The other roll was allegedly a scallop roll, but I'm not sure it was really scallop, as opposed to some imitation fish meat. This was also layered on the outside with the same bright pink mushy tuna.
I'm sure that the tuna was the color it was because it had been sprayed with carbon monoxide (CO) to try to mask exactly how unfresh it was. CO-treated tuna is apparently the dirty little secret of inferior sushi bars like Yen.
CO as an additive to fish has been banned in Japan, Canada and the European Union, but the FDA claims it's perfectly safe.
The only people in the restaurant were young 20-somethings. I guess the food must be a slight step up from the dorm cafeterias at the colleges that they recently graduated from.
For some reason, I don't think the restaurant is Japanese-owned. It did not have a Japanese feel or aesthetic. I actually saw some food whizzing by adorned with little paper umbrellas - reminded me of "Polynesian" food I ate as a child.
It's safe to say that I won't be returning to Yen. I really hate working in the Wilshire/Barrington corridor. If you don't want to get into your car to go get something to eat, I think it may be the single worst neighborhood in L.A. chow-wise.